There isn't an official body governing the Video Game Hall of Fame, but there are a handful of games that would be consensus first ballot selections. Technology changes so fast that ranking the merits of Xevious compared to BioShock is difficult if not meaningless.
Some games just jump right in there and no one disputes it: Space Invaders, Pong, Super Mario Bros. 3, Street Fighter II, StarCraft. Other games make it in on their second or third appearance on the ballot: Sonic the Hedgehog, Prince of Persia, ZORK. Then there are the sleepers--games with avid followings that--to their fans--should be included among the greatest, but for whatever reason never achieved the commercial success and universal acclaim of the easy-in titles.
Game of the Day: IKARUGA
The name leaves a little to be desired--maybe if it is translated from the Japanese..."Grosbeak." Ok, maybe not. It must be some revelation in concept then--nope, it's a vertical shooter released in 2000--about 18 years after the genre was spawned. Controls? Nope, nothing not seen on Radiant Silvergun or Silhouette Mirage. So why all the hubbub?
Because it's perfect.
It's not hard to figure out, it's not some overly outrageous bullet hell, it's just awesome in every way. It seems overtly focused on being beautiful. This is a shooting game in which you don't even have to shoot the bad guys to win! If you are good enough at dodging and hitting obstacles, you can make it through the whole game. I'm not sure what the secret of the game is, maybe the polarity switching, maybe the chains, or even the lack of power-ups, but it is just amazing.
In-shrink copies of the GameCube and Dreamcast versions cost more than $100 dollars, but you can get it from XBLA for about $10.